A Town With No Kids

...but we're with you online!

Hi Ashley (Campbell),

I have not been mixed up yet since I arrived, but it could easily happen. It is very hard to get used to all the sunlight. I have to wear sunglasses even when I go out late in the evening. I bought special sunglasses at the eye glass store at the Center At Salisbury. They are really different than I have ever worn before. They are called Glacier Glasses and are intended for places like here. They have very dark mirrored lenses, and leather side shields on the sides, and leather on the nose bridge. Before we boarded the plane to come to the ice, we watched some safety movies. They talked about sunglasses, and how failure to wear the glasses could cause snow blindness. There is not much snow in the town of McMurdo, but the ice and snow is close enough to cause lots of glare.

I do not know about tricking your parents. I would not let my son get away with that! Even though it is light all night, you still have to sleep.

Thanks for writing,

Hi Stephanie,

I really like it here in Antarctica. It is a very great adventure for me. Although I am working long hours, I am seeing some very beautiful scenery. I am staying in a dorm just a few hundred feet from the frozen McMurdo Sound. There are a few breaks in the ice near the shore, and the last few mornings I have seen a Seal moving around on the ice near the shore.

I was not scared on the plane rides. There were times when we were above the clouds, and they looked like fluffy cotton. I really enjoyed the plane ride from Pittsburgh, PA to Los Angeles, CA. That was the first time I had ever flown at night. I was watching out the window most of the flight, and saw the lights from little towns and cities all across the United States. I was really amazed at the lights near Los Angeles, which seemed to go on forever. There is a good chance that I will get a chance to go on a helicopter ride to Black Island next week.

I am working at a satellite tracking station here in Antarctica. I really enjoy it, and work with electronics and computers every day. I am meeting all kinds of people doing different jobs. At this time of year, there are a lot of scientists here doing all kinds of experiments.

There are a lot of things here that I am sure you would enjoy, but there are not any kids here. I am not sure if kids would even be allowed to come, because this can be a very dangerous place.

Thanks for writing,

Hi Ashley (Roberts),

I think your first question may mean why I am here. I work at Wallops Island in the Satellite Tracking Station. Wallops is opening a station here, and I got the chance to come down here to work. I thought it would be a trip of a lifetime, so I am here.

Lately it has been about 25-35 degrees Fahrenheit, and this is the summer. In winter the temperature will fall to below zero. I am not sure how cold it will get, but from what I have heard, it can get to -30 to -50 degrees. The worst part can be the wind, which can get to over 100 miles per hour. When it gets that bad, they will not allow anyone to go outside.

I am not having any trouble sleeping, but the curtains block out most of the light. I really like Christmas, and will be able to come back for the holidays. I should arrive home on December 22, and I will come back down here in January.

Thanks for writing,

Hi Nickel,

I think I told you there were 3 people named Dave that were in our room. Well I just found out that another Dave was coming in soon. We have going to have to start changing our names.

I am not sure what more I can tell you about volcanoes. I do not know much about them. I can try to find out some more about Mount Erebus. I stayed in Christchurch New Zealand for a few days on my way down. There is a big mountain on the edge of town, with a gondola that rides to the top of the mountain. When you are on the top, you can see that it was formed by a volcano a very long time ago. I have a nice poster that I got there, that shows the ring of mountains that used to be the volcano. When I get back in a few weeks, I will bring it into the classroom so Ms. Weeg can keep it for a few days to show you and the other students.

The only animals I have seen are seals. I am not sure what type of seals they are, as I could not get close enough to see them well. I was talking to some folks the other day that saw some penguins, but I do not think I will see any until the ice breaks up on the sound. I am not sure what other countries I would like to visit. I am not sure if my job will take me to any other countries. I will just have to wait and see.

Thanks for writing,

Hi Kaley,

I am doing good, but I am tired this evening. I had a very long work day, and even had to work from 1 to 3 in the morning the other night. I think it is strange when I have to put on sunglasses at 1 in the morning. I really like it down here. It was a long trip to come here, but it was fun.

I do not think I can remember all the states that I have visited. I was born in Pennsylvania, and lived for a while in West Virginia before moving to Maryland. When I was young, I took a trip to New Mexico, and a few years ago I took a trip to Disney World in Florida. After my next trip here, I may have to go to Florida again just to thaw out.

Thanks for writing,

Hi Casie,

I am taking lots of pictures, and will bring them to your school you Ms. Weeg can let all the kids see them. The calendar has lots of neat pictures. There is one in my mind that was taken in McMurdo Sound, which is right where I am. It shows some penguins on the edge of the ice, with a whale in the water. I think the penguins are wanting to go swimming, and the whale wants some lunch.

I may get to go cross country skiing while I am here. I need to go to a class in outdoor safety before I would be allowed to try it.

Thanks for writing,

From Patti:

"..Would you write and tell us what a typical day is like for you? Also... tell the kids what subjects from school now really help you in your job..."

Dave replied:

I am here to operate and maintain a satellite tracking station. There is a dish and a building on a hill outside McMurdo. Because of the extreme weather, the dish is enclosed in a dome that looks like a 50 foot golf ball. In the building are computers, receivers, recorders and equipment for a microwave link. The main computer that controls all the equipment is also linked to an office in the Crary Labs building in downtown McMurdo. We are able to operate all the equipment from the Labs.

Presently we are working long hours trying to get all the equipment in top shape. The station was installed about a year ago, and since then there have been many bugs that have developed. We are trying to get things fixed before Radarsat support starts in a few months. Presently we are tracking satellites for data collection as well as testing. There are many people here from Godard Space Flight Center, Wallops, and Scientific Atlanta, the company that built the system.

Once the system becomes fully operational, we will set up the tracks by entering epherimis data in the computer (numbers that tell the computer where to find the satellite), and the times the data will be transferred to us. This configures the computer to set up the equipment, track the satellite, and record the data. The passes usually last about 15 minutes. We then take some of the data and transfer it via Internet to the control center in Alaska. We then will send the data via microwave link to Black Island, where there is another satellite dish that sends the data via satellite to White Sands, NM.

When I was in school, my favorite classes were science and math. When I was 14 years old, I became a Ham Radio Operator. This allowed me to get exposure to electronics. There were no classes in my school focused in this area, so I just played with electronics, and read many books about it.

From Patti:

Thanks! I am really having a good time with this - hope you are too!

From Dave:

I am having a ball. I hope they can continue to come up with questions. The answers are the easy part.

David Hess NK3T


Presently living in Greater downtown McMurdo, on the beautiful Ross Island in the continent of Antarctica.

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